Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Christian for fifteen minutes

Today is the twenty-seventh anniversary of my conversion to Christianity, so it seemed like a good idea to commemorate it by posting yet another talking head video:

This follows on from yesterday's video about Christian atheism.  My conversion experience happened soon after leaving home.  I was in a hall of residence at a university and very much missing my friends, though not particularly my family.  I was feeling isolated and depressed, and was befriended by Christians.  I already believed in God, so it didn't seem like too big a jump to become Christian, but my misgivings were around the idea that questioning would become problematic.  I was assured that it would not be, so i took the leap of faith and committed myself to Christ.  This is in the entirely conventional evangelical sense of being a "born-again Christian".  That is in fact what i am, in spite of appearances to the contrary.

Almost immediately afterwards, i had huge problems.  I tried to ignore them, prayed about them, searched for answers in Scripture about them, all to no avail.  I hid them from other Christians, but wrote screeds and screeds of stuff about them.  Then i went home for Christmas.

When i came back, i decided to confront the issue head-on.  I raised the first issue with my friends - rejection of other religions.  Later on came the equally troublesome issue of Christian homophobia.  I continued to raise similar issues throughout the rest of the year.  Many of my friends were fine about it, but a few saw me as recalcitrant and uncooperative, and that my approach was as if the problems were uniquely mine.  I think they had a point with the last bit, which was quite insightful, but even now haven't managed to do anything with it.

After nearly a year, i completely gave up on the religion, having decided that St Paul was the worst thing to have happened to the planet since the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, and went on to live a largely secular life.  I could mention how God pursues people who have done this at this point, but it would probably annoy the secular readers, so i won't.  Suffice it to say that i was not impressed by religious approaches, although i still found them interesting.  Jainism was a particular interest of mine, as expressed on YouTube.

The years went by, i became anarchist and vegan, did postgrad, got married of all things, had children and then, after twelve years in the wilderness, came back to Church.  This time, i did it on my own terms, and also on God's, but then i would say that wouldn't i?  In the meantime i had learned of various things associated with Christianity which were more positive, such as the Student Christian Movement, and realised that the Christianity i had been "sold" was not the whole story.  This is an ongoing process.

Now, this may not be very Christian of me but i don't really care whether someone believes in God or not.  It doesn't seem to be the most important thing about them to me.  I would be more interested in their political and ethical beliefs than their religious beliefs.  I think people are increasingly polarised between a narrow version of Christianity and a narrow version of atheism, and those two narrow versions have a lot more in common with each other than people like to admit.  What we need to do is forget our differences and work together to make the world a better place.  This conflict is a waste of energy and does nothing to benefit the weakest, poorest and oppressed.  That's what we need to be doing:  building a Paradise on Earth.  That's an urgent priority and we have to stop squabbling and do what we all know we're meant to be doing with our lives.